Good News!

Successful Reclassification at the Huntington Beach Public Library

Julie Bixby is an Accounting Technician II at Huntington Beach Public Library (HBPL). She shared the story of how she found herself with more responsibilities after a colleague retired. She worked with her library’s director and the Human Resources department to reclassify her position.

LW: Please describe what you do.

JB: I was just promoted/reclassed into Accounting Tech II from Library Processing Clerk. I’m in Acquisitions. I place the book orders that are submitted by the librarians. I receive the books, do “preprocessing” work (title page notations, place the book on the appropriate cart), and prepare the invoices for payment. I monitor and receive standing orders, and monitor all book expenditures. My new, additional duties involve preparing requisitions for the running of the library—maintenance and supply purchases—and preparing those invoices for payment also. And keeping track of the library budget, making sure accounts aren’t overspent.

LW: How many other people in your library share the same duties and responsibilities?

JB: There is one other Acquisitions person who was also just promoted/reclassified to Account Tech II. She orders and receives media materials (videos, CDs) that are selected by others. She receives books and magazines. She also works on preparing requisitions and invoices for payment.

LW: How long have you been there? How long have you been working in libraries?

JB:I started part-time in 1984 working the children’s desk at HBPL. Then in 1990 a full-time position opened up in Acquisitions, and I’ve been there ever since. I also did part-time interlibrary loan for one year at the UC Irvine Biomedical library.

LW: What do you like about working in libraries?

JB:Knowing that my work is helping others. I don’t directly help patrons, since I’m not on the front lines manning a public desk, but books are what a library is all about.

LW: What do you like least about working in libraries?

JB:The stereotype that everyone who works in a library is a librarian. It’s hard for me to explain to people what my job is without them assuming I’m a librarian.

LW: Describe the conditions that led you to receive a higher classification.

JB:Two years ago, my immediate supervisor retired. The supervisor did all the maintenance and supply ordering, and monitoring of the library budget. When she retired another person was brought in part-time to do that job. That worked for 18 months, until the part-timer found a full-time job elsewhere. The director had a choice, he could either find a new person to do that job, or he could ask the city for a reclassification study for my Acquisitions co-worker and me.

LW: When did this occur? Over what time period?

JB:In May 2004 the director asked for the study, and in September 2004 the reclassification/promotion was granted.

LW: Who else was affected?

JB:My Acquisitions cohort. We work in concert, really, like a team.

LW: What was the process that made the change happen?

JB:The director requesting a reclass study by HR. We filled out a PDQ (personnel description questionnaire), and met once with a HR rep. The rep then studied our existing classification, the classification of the vacated position, and looked at other classifications within the city. She looked at the list of duties performed and figured out what class was the best fit.

LW: Who were your champions?

JB:The director. He knew we were capable of the extra work, but he wanted to ensure we were compensated for it.

LW: Is yours a union environment?

JB:Yes. In fact, as part of a contract a few years ago, the entire city underwent a reclassification study. The result of that study for me was the same salary with a change in job title from “Library Clerk Senior” to “Library Processing Clerk.” Real morale killer, that.

LW: Tell us about your new classification.

JB:I am an Accounting Technician II. There are other Accounting Tech IIs in other city departments. This is the first time that class has been assigned at the library. The class of the part-timer was Library Specialist, which is actually a fraction lower in salary range than Accounting Tech II.

LW: What benefits do you now receive as a result of the change?

JB:It’s a higher salary range, so for the next two years we will get raises, moving up steps in the new classification.

LW: How do you feel about the new classification?

JB:It’s mixed. On the one hand, I’ve felt for years that my work was more complicated than was being recognized, so it’s nice to finally get recognition. This is more work, but it’s also more pay. On the other hand, there’s no “library” in the title, which makes me feel a little odd.

LW: What would you recommend to others who are seeking reclassification?

JB:You need a champion from a supervisor. That’s the way it works, at least here.

LW: What would you recommend to library administrators who are seeking reclassification on behalf of their staff?

JB:The great thing about this reclassification was the director keeping our spirits up. He’d tell us, “I know they’re still working on it,” which was encouraging for us, but wasn’t just lip service because he did keep in regular communication with HR.

This interview is based on Julie’s comments on the electronic discussion list Libsup-l.